CNN Can't Please Any of the People Any of the Time
"Balanced and fair" in today's America means "you always agree with me."
When both Republicans and Democrats hate you, are you doing something terribly wrong or something right? We all know you cannot please all the people all the time. What does it mean when you succeed in displeasing all the people some of the time?
This is the situation CNN finds itself in. They may even be in a situation of displeasing all of the people most of the time. The result of its town-hall meeting between Donald Trump and their rising star, Kaitlan Collins, is that liberal Democrats are viscerally outraged that CNN even gave Trump a platform from which to continue to speak his views and are hemorrhaging cerebrally over the fact that CNN also set him up with a comfy audience of Republicans and independents, heavily biased in Trump’s favor.
On the other hand, Republicans are outraged at CNN for grilling Trump with the questions Collins kept pummeling him with. They were, at the same time, delighted with how Trump attacked her back, and many commented on social media about how the audience laughed at Collins whenever he criticized her. She threw no insults back at him, but stayed with her questions. MAGA Republicans are boasting about how their champion “schooled” the CNN journalist who looks set to become Don Lemon’s replacement. (A change at CNN I find satisfying just because the smug Lemon was particularly arrogant toward Collins in how he talked over the top of her to keep himself in the limelight when he was made cohost with her.)
Here is what I make of this blowout, and it probably won’t make me any friends either. Oh well. I think it PROVES CNN did exactly what they have said they will do with their new mission. They moved toward “fair-and-balanced” reporting. Why do I think that? First of all, I have experienced many times in the last few years how rapidly people will flee from your publication the second you say something about politics they disagree with. It feels to me like the majority of Americans now are determined to hear ONLY what they want to hear and want to believe in and angrily shut out whatever disagrees with them as being “lies” or “fake news.” It makes NO difference whether they are Republicans or Democrats.
That is what I see CNN, long a very liberal media outlet, now struggling with. If they move to fair-and-balanced reporting (or, at least, attempt to), their Democratic audience will flee from them in fits of rage, spewing torrents of disgust, for not toeing the liberal line. At the same time, they won’t gain any Republican viewers because Republicans (or a sizable number of them) will not see anything that does not completely agree with them as balanced or fair.
We saw that with Fox News when Tucker Carlson constantly aired the opinions of Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Trump, himself, about the election results, even though Tucker said in his own emails he thought they were lunatics and Trump was the devil. He stated his reason was that Fox would loose a flood of viewers from an audience he and others had worked long to build if it did not feed the audience exactly what they wanted to hear about Trump and from Trump. He did what is called “pandering to the audience” for the sake of popularity.
Carlson never would have presented Democrats on his show who espoused liberal opinions he or his cultivated audience disagreed with without attacking their views in the interview and even arguing further against those views in commentary after the interview. That would easily make him a champion before his own audience. However, with these Republicans, whom he said privately he regarded as insane, he presented their views, which he believed were dead-wrong, with kid-glove treatment to appeal to his audience -- to feed them what they wanted to hear. That is not a man guided by truth. It is a man guided solely by popularity.
That is the situation in America today. Truth, to many, has been reduced to whatever fully agrees with the listener on matters of importance. Anything else is a lie to be completely shut out. If you attempt to speak the truth, then you likely stand in the middle of the extremes and will be excoriated by both sides. Collins’ situation is a prefect example. What she did was bold, and here is why:
I think it proves how much CNN is trying to be fair. They knowingly and intentionally surrounded Trump with an audience they knew would be very favorable toward Trump and would be against Collins. She knew it, too. That was not by accident. CNN balanced the equation because their own journalist was going to do her job and grill Trump, not softball him. (While the Republican audience clearly loathed her for hard-balling him on his controversial actions and opinions, if this has been Biden being interviewed, this same audience would equally loathe her if she soft-balled Biden!)
CNN could have stacked the deck easily with an audience that would have loved them and Collins for grilling Trump or, at least, with an audience that would be a balanced mix of Republicans, Democrats and independents. They chose not to, regardless of how that positioned them. They chose an audience biased strongly in Trump's favor -- for the most part, his own rally crowd. (Had CNN done this town-hall meeting in blue territory and chosen a blue audience, they would have all applauded Collins and booed Trump, and he would have been standing on his left foot, and they’d still be popular with the blue public.)
Standing before an audience that you know by tradition leans strongly away from you and toward the person you will be grilling is far from an easy thing to do. Collins had the guts to brazenly question Trump and not let him off from answering before an audience that she KNEW would be against her and would be likely to applaud for Trump. That is a bold thing to do to yourself on national TV! Few people would have that courage.
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